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John Brownell, bats lift Ducks into first place

Long Island Ducks starting pitcher John Brownell delivers

Long Island Ducks starting pitcher John Brownell delivers in a game against the Camden Riversharks, Sunday, August 23, 2015 at Bethpage Ballpark. Credit: George A. Faella

In the thick of the playoff hunt, the Ducks could ill afford to drop a home series to the struggling Camden Riversharks.

Five runs in a third-inning offensive outburst and a solid start from John Brownell ensured that wouldn't be the case as the Ducks beat Camden, 5-1, in front of 5,633 fans Sunday night at Bethpage Ballpark.

The Ducks improved to 24-19 in the second half and moved a game ahead of Somerset for first place in the Liberty Division.

"We say 'every game is the most important game of the year,' " said Sean Burroughs, who was 3-for-5 with two RBIs. "You never want to look too far into the future, or sit there and check boxscores, looking over your shoulders, seeing what someone else is doing. You just want to win as much as you can and put pressure on everyone else."

Manager Kevin Baez added: "The mind-set is we play every game like it's the biggest game but I preach have fun and don't get too tense, either, and think it's the end of the world."

The Ducks had 13 hits but did not score outside the third, leaving 11 runners on base. Brownell, though, ensured a third-inning surge was enough offense as he allowed one run and four hits in six innings, striking out three and walking three.

"[I made] the pitches when I needed to," said Brownell, who improved to 10-3 and lowered his ERA to 3.12. "I didn't feel like I had great stuff . . . but if you can limit the damage like we did today, it's a positive."

He added: "You feel good any time you get a win and the team gets a win."

The Ducks and Camden (18-25, 46-67) had split the first two games of the weekend series. The Riversharks entered last in the league in runs allowed per game (5.1) and second to last in runs scored per game (3.9).

The Ducks fell behind 1-0 in the first inning, but in the third, Dan Lyons' RBI double tied it at 1 and Burroughs hit a double to left that drove in two. Mike Blanke smacked a double to left two batters later to make it 4-1 and scored on a throwing error later in the inning.

Billy Buckner pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Brownell, striking out four and allowing three hits and no walks.

New York Sports